Have you ever wondered about the history of newspaper in Nigeria? When did the first newspaper emerge and how has the media transformed to what we know today? Here is the story.
Newspapers are one of the major sources of knowledge and news. Sometimes they even become a powerful tool in the fight for independence and freedom. The history of newspapers can tell a lot about the general issues and views in the country. Let’s find out how the printed press developed in Nigeria.
History of newspaper in Nigeria
The life of newspapers in Nigeria started in the 19th century when the European missioner from Presbyterian Church Rev. Henry Townsend established the first printing press in 1854. Five years later, the first newspaper came out, called “Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba.”
The brand-new newspaper was published every 15 days with a circulation of 3000 copies and cost 120 cowries, which could be equated to one penny. The major topics that “Iwe Irohin” covered were mainly focused around the church. Later it also featured advertisements.
In the 1860s “Iwe Irohin” appeared in two languages: English and Yoruba. However, by the end of the decade due to the expulsion of Europeans from Egbaland, the newspaper went out of business.
Rev. Henry Townsend opened the newspaper for a reason. Firstly, he wanted to popularize the reading habit among Egba and Yoruba. Secondly, the media was a powerful tool to distribute religious doctrine. Even though the newspaper closed in 10 years, it reached its aims and gave a start for the development of the printing press in the region.
The second quite popular and influential newspaper of the time was “The Anglo-African” established in Lagos in 1863 by Robert Campbell. Its primary goal was to increase the level of knowledge among the population.
The third Naija newspaper came out in 1880 and was called “The Lagos Times and Gold Coast Colony Advertiser.” Its cost was 6 pence, and it was published every 15 days. The main topics the newspaper covered were the current issues of that time. Even though the paper was quite useful and relevant, it didn’t last long. It was closed in 1883 and reopened in 1890 with little success.
The development of Naija newspapers wouldn’t be adequately described without mentioning the “West African Pilot” – printed press that appeared in 1937. The particular interest in this newspaper was its aim – to fight for independence from the British government. It was a powerful media, due to which lots of different newspapers emerged in the 1960s.
In 1936, the Northern Nigerian Government established a Hausa newspaper called “Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo.” Later, in 1965, it got an English version and changed the name to “New Nigerian.”
Most well-known newspapers of that times set their goal to fight for independence. However, till the 1990s most publications were government-owned. Only private papers continued to uncover public and private scandals, despite governmental suppression. Among them were:
- Daily Trust;
- Nigerian Tribune;
- The Punch;
Nigerian newspapers today
Nigerian media today faces several problems. The major one is the lack of funding. To stay afloat, the papers have to publish advertisements, which influences the quality of the articles. The problem is that often exclusively powerful individuals or companies place the ads. Therefore sometimes the newspaper clearly misleads readers, for example, by covering up the apparent corruption.
With the emergence and spread of the Internet in the country, the online newspapers appeared. More and more Nigerians rely on online publications. Plus, online media increases the prompt submission of information and can deliver texts on various topics.
Here is the list of Nigerian newspapers today:
- The Guardian
- The Sun
- Thia Day
- The Punch
- P.M. News
- Daily Post
- Daily Trust
- Nigeria Daily Times
- The Nation
- Complete Sports
- P.M. News
Most of them cover daily political and economic issues in Nigeria, offer reports and analytical articles, produce a lot of entertainment content.
Newspaper growth in Nigeria continues. The media industry faces challenges, but persist in fighting them, and the development of printed and online press carries on.